The Unlucky Ones

Posted on: July 29, 2013

“OF COURSE,” Kurt yelled to the cosmos, not really expecting a response.

There was no acknowledgment after he cursed the universe for the power surge that disabled his alarm clock, or the bus that scuttled past as he ran towards the stop, or the umbrella that jammed as the skies opened up.

Kurt gave up on the polyester shield and sprinted three blocks to the sanctity of his regular coffee shop. He flung himself in the building and wiped his shoes before noticing the line of caffeine addicts that guaranteed he’d be late for work. He made peace with his impending tardiness and passed the time by trying to understand what he’d done to deserve such bad luck.

Until today, Kurt was always sitting at his desk by 9 AM. He stayed late most nights to avoid frantic commuters. He purchased wrapping paper from his coworkers’ kids and ran 5Ks to cure pancreatic cancer. His bad karma remained a mystery by the time he reached the counter.

“Well you’re here later than normal,” the barista acknowledged. “The usual?”

“Yesplease,” he quickly responded, saving seconds wherever he could.

The barista noted his accelerated speech and sidestepped to the espresso machine. Kurt reached in his back pocket for his wallet. Nothing. He tried both of his hip pockets. Nothing. He patted his breast pocket, feeling his heart drop to his feet when he pictured it on his nightstand. The steam roared from the frother in the same way it would’ve escaped Kurt’s ears if life were more like a cartoon.

“WAIT,” he called out to the barista. “Don’t make that. I forgot my wallet.”

The barista put the finishing touches on her foam four-leaf clover and sashayed the latte over to the register.

“I didn’t spend five minutes making this drink just to pour it down the sink” she said, capping the beverage and sliding it in his direction.

“Are you sure?”

“Sure am. You’re one of my best tippers. I can’t risk scaring you off.”

The universe had spoken.

“THANK YOU,” Kurt responded, startling the struggling writers and wedding planners conducting business at the surrounding tables. “I’ll pay double tomorrow.”

“I know you’re good for it. Now get to work so you can keep the generosity coming.”

Kurt turned to see people casually walking along the sidewalk, umbrellas clasped and tucked beneath their arms. He took a deep breath, resolving to forgive life for its previous mistreatment. The acquittal was short lived.

The rain returned as soon as Kurt reentered the street, proving God’s fondness for practical jokes. The cold raindrops mixed with the hot latte dribbling down his chest as he began round 2 with the umbrella.

“OF COURSE,” Kurt yelled once he noticed the stain.

“YOU NEED A RIDE?” yelled a cab driver witnessing the pathetic scene.

Kurt latched onto the door handle before even giving a nod of acknowledgement.

“Where to?” the cabbie asked as Kurt struggled to get in the taxi.

“9th and AHHHHHH,” Kurt screamed as the steel door and frame crushed his ankle like a vice. “THEHOSPITALTHEHOSPITAL!”

Kurt managed to lift his paralyzed foot into the cab and close the door. In the midst of his agonizing pain, he remembered he had no means of paying his cab driver.

“Listen,” Kurt hissed through his teeth. “I don’t have any money.”

“What do you mean you don’t have any money?” the cabbie interrogated. “I just saw you come out of a coffee shop.”

“I know! I had to tell them the same thing. I’m so sorry. PLEASE, just help me. I’ll take down your name and pay you double later.” Kurt bargained.

The cabbie scoffed and stopped the car in front of the ambulance entrance. Medical personnel berated him until Kurt flung the back door open.

“HELP,” he called out, unable to put enough weight on his foot to climb out of the vehicle.

A pair of nurses retrieved him from the back seat and helped him into a wheelchair. Kurt glanced over his shoulder and spotted the cab number before they rolled him through the automatic doors. He pulled out his phone and jotted it down before it slipped from his short-term memory.

“I’ll bring you your paperwork,” said the nurse not pushing the wheelchair.

Kurt dialed “2” on his phone and waited for the tone.

“Hello? Kurt?” his wife answered.


“I was just about to call you. I found your wallet on the nightstand.”

“Did you happen to see my common sense there too?”

She laughed.

“What are you talking about?”

“I can’t go into it now, but long story short, I slammed my foot in a taxi door. I’m at the hospital.”

“Oh my God!”

“It’s fine, sort of, but will you PLEASE bring me my wallet? I need my insurance card and stuff.”

“Of course! I’m so sorry, Dear!”

“I know, just hurry.”

“K. Leaving now. Love you.”

“I love you too.”

Kurt replaced the soothing sound of his wife’s voice with a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush.

“God damn mother fucking alarm clock. Stupid shit-eating bus driver. Fucking rain storm. Fucking cab. Fucking ankle. Fucking...”

Kurt’s flow of foul language was interrupted by a stampede of EMTs and MDs pushing a gurney through the ER like an Olympic bobsled team. They disappeared behind a pair of double-hinged doors before he could clearly see the occupant of the stretcher, but the blood-spattered woman being restrained by a pair of nurses painted a grim picture of the unfortunate soul. She thrashed and screamed and cried hysterically as the nurses struggled to keep her out of the operating room.

Kurt reverted his gaze back to his phone and allowed the stinging sensation in his ankle to consume his entire body. He felt it rush from his foot to every hair follicle on his head. He felt his phone vibrate with a text from his wife announcing her arrival. And at that moment, he felt like the luckiest man alive.

Photograph By: Emily Blincoe
Written By: Mark Killian


Posted on: July 25, 2013

It was that point in winter when the snow drifts started blocking the view at intersections. In the car on the way home from school, Rocko’s mom cranked the heater up full blast and rolled the windows down. She craned her neck to check for cars, then turned onto their street.

Rocko jammed his hands into the pocket of his hoodie.

“How was school?”


“Did you learn anything?”


Rocko was already out of the car before his mom cut the ignition. He had shit to do, and it didn’t involve shoveling snow or checking on Mrs. Gotwalls next door or having an afternoon snack while he caught his mom up on high school happenings.

Down in the basement, he colored the white rubber toe of his Converse sneaker with a black Sharpie while he waited for the dial up to connect.

On AIM, sn0wbunny86’s away message, purple comic sans with little asterisk accents, told Rocko she was just waiting for someone to sign on:

and if this is what it takes / just to lie with my mistakes / and live with what i did to you /
all the heIl i put you through / i always catch the clock / it's 11:11/ and now you want to talk

He wasn’t going to play into what she wanted just yet. Rocko finished coloring in his shoe.

There it was.

sn0wbunny86: hey

He waited a few seconds. He wouldn’t want her to think him overeager.

sn0wbunny86: whats up?

Okay, now.

orockorocko: nm
sn0wbunny86: school sucked today
orockorocko: completely
sn0wbunny86: i’m so tired!!
orockorocko: yeah
sn0wbunny86: are you tired
orockorocko: i slept in english
sn0wbunny86: lol!! you always get away with stuff

Rocko waved the uncapped Sharpie under his nose and sniffed three times, almost as a joke. He capped the Sharpie and tried to spin it over his thumb like the debate kids. It torpedoed onto the floor behind the desk chair. Next he fiddled with the bent cigarette he’d bummed from some goth kid at school. Rocko didn’t even have a lighter. He’d have to work on that.

orockorocko: not as much as you do lol

Sn0wbunny86 had two classes with Rocko. She lived three blocks away in the same subdivision, Tregaron Oaks III, which sprung up after the identical houses in Tregaron Oaks II had devolved mostly to rentals. Sn0wbunny86’s real name was Heather.

When people asked whether they were together, Rocko shrugged it off. “Whatever,” he’d say. “We’re just friends.”

Heather wasn’t exactly beautiful. She looked like all the other girls in Nebraska. Freckly nose, stringy brown hair, no makeup. Skinny legs and a little bit of a pudge, which she hid under her knockoff North Face.

Nothing physical had happened between them yet. Heather’s parents had a strange no-boys-in-the-house policy, and Rocko’s parents weren’t much better, frantically worrying that his “bad attitude” would send him down the slippery slope of marijuana like his cousin Josh. His parents liked him busy, preferably at church.

But parental paranoia didn’t prevent Heather from stirring up enough tension as sn0wbunny86 to prompt hours of analysis. Heather rehashed everything with her best friend Kristen. When Rocko said she “wasn’t not good looking” what did that mean? Why couldn’t she get him to reveal his feelings on AIM? She even logged in with Kristen’s screen name trying to prompt Rocko to say he liked her, but he didn’t budge.

And yet, they IM’d until 3 AM most nights, continuing their are-we/aren’t-we dance, unless Rocko’s mom saw the light squinting from the basement door and shut the whole operation down, because it’s a school night and what were you even thinking?

sn0wbunny86: i only get away with stuff with you ;)
orockorocko: yeah…lol
sn0wbunny86: soooooooo what are u doing tonight?

Rocko took a deep breath. The pixels in the computer screen were starting to look a little 3D, like a magic eye he’d stared at for too long.

orockorocko: i’m gonna come see you

At the bottom of the IM window, the “sn0wbunny86 is typing…” message flickered on and off like a twitchy light bulb.

A good three minutes. Then her response appeared.

sn0wbunny86: where

All that for one word? Rocko hoped she was anxious, too.

orockorocko: the park. across from the miller’s house
sn0wbunny86: u sure? ummm what time?
orockorocko: 1 AM. i g2g, mom needs the phone
sn0wbunny86: wait hang on
orockorocko: just be there

He signed off. Tilting the desk chair back onto two legs, Rocko reached for the Sharpie on the floor.

His mom opened the basement door.

“You’re going to ruin that chair or crack your head open. Your choice!” his mom called.

“Okay, Mom.”

After dinner, Rocko made a big show of dragging his eight million pound book bag up the stairs to “work on homework.” At ten thirty, wearing pajama pants, he made another show of going to the kitchen for milk and being “really wiped out.” At twelve fifty, Rocko sneaked out the sliding glass door and into the yard.

It was snowing, and the street lamps glowed hazy overhead.

Heather stood on the corner by the Miller’s. She’d brought her family’s dog, Lucky. Good excuse if she got caught.

Rocko reached into the pocket of his hoodie and ran his fingers over his stash. Matches. Cigarette. Spearmint gum, just in case. Sharpie, for some reason.

“I’ve never snuck out before,” Heather tittered.

“I know,” Rocko said.

“Have you?”

“I don’t remember,” Rocko said.

He hadn’t. He hadn’t done anything. He’d never done anything. He’d always been supervised and chauffeured around—jailed. He knew all his friends were probably lying about how far they’d gotten with girls, about the one time their brother bought them beer, but surely something was supposed to happen eventually.

He struck a match and lit the cigarette like he’d seen people do at school, shielding the flame from the falling snow.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” Heather said.

“I mean, sometimes,” Rocko said, trying not to choke.

“Cool,” Heather said. “Can I try it?”

Rocko passed her the cigarette. She held it formally, as if she were clenching a peace sign. She took a drag, letting the smoke drift back out into the freezing air, then passed it back.

“Sorry if I got chapstick on the end,” Heather said. “You know…it’s almost like we’ve kissed now.”

Rocko looked for lip prints on the cigarette paper. He didn’t see anything.

“Yeah,” he said. “I guess it is.”

Photograph By: Yanbo Tang
Written By: Dot Dannenberg


Posted on: July 22, 2013

1. “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay

The first time Kat met Mason, she was walking out of the lunch line into the cafeteria with an orange tray of fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and a carton of chocolate milk. The girls her age were all so skinny, wore shorts that made her panties seem like boxer briefs, and knew what it was like to make out. Kat spent most of her time cheek-deep in a fantasy novel and watching Sailor Moon. She was pretty convinced that no one would be interested in her for a long time, if ever.

Her best friend Sophia waved her over to a table by the vending machines, smiling with a mouthful of braces. Kat took a seat across from her and noticed the boy to her left wearing a black Linkin Park tee and leather wrist cuff. She noticed the moon-like craters in his blue eyes when he met her gaze as she managed a tight, closed-lip smile.

“Omigosh, Mason! This is Kat,” Sophia began. “She’s been my BFF for like ever! She plays guitar and knows the lyrics to every Spice Girls song!”

Slightly embarrassed by the introduction, Kat looked down at her mashed potatoes and wondered if she should stop getting lunch from the hot line.

“I’m not really into them as much anymore,” Kat said, pushing the green beans around with her fork. “I’ve been listening to a lot more techno lately.”

She noticed Mason perk up and lean forward with his forearms crossed on the tabletop. “Oh, cool! So, you’re into like BT and Alice Deejay?”

Kat’s eyes shot up and her back straightened with renewed confidence. Mason was smiling at her and she realized she would totally make out with him if he asked her.

2. “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot

Kat and Mason were sitting in his Pontiac Sunfire in the parking lot of their favorite coffee shop. Kat’s first gig was in an hour and her performance anxiety was not agreeing with her dinner of Japanese fast food. Mason knew better than to bother her with encouragement, so he turned up the volume on the radio and smiled as a familiar guitar riff opened up their favorite song of senior year.

“Fumbling his confidence and wondering why the world has passed him by...”

He held her hand resting on her thigh and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. Kat was singing with the chorus quietly as she looked out the passenger side window at passing traffic, a setting sun, and cars pulling in. She took in a deep breath.

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’m ready.”

Mason cut off the ignition and leaned over to kiss her cheek.

3. “Fix You” by Coldplay

When Kat got off the phone, she curled up into a ball on her tiny bed in the dorm room she shared with a predominantly absent roommate. It was the week before final exams during Spring Semester of her freshman year at the College of Charleston. She held a pillow against her face and sobbed, a deep and guttural sound that made her body quake. There was no one to comfort her, no one around to explain why something so terrible could happen. Why did Sophia go to that party? Why did she have to drink so much? Why didn’t they go to the same school so Kat could have stopped her?

Her phone rang. She didn’t want someone else to say her best friend was dead, but she looked at the screen anyway and saw Mason’s name. He was at Savannah College of Art and Design, which meant he was over two hours away. Kat wiped her nose on the pillow, rolled over onto her back, and answered the call without saying anything.

“Hey, Kat.”

She didn’t respond.

“I know you’re really upset, but can you come downstairs? I’m here.”

Kat immediately started sobbing again as she got out of bed and mumbled through salty saliva and grief, “I love you so much. I love you so so much.”

4. “Politics of Resignation” by Motionless

They were on a bus headed from Madrid to Trujillo, Spain. Mason had his headphones on, listening to some obscure post-rock instrumental band as was the trend since they graduated in the Spring. It was their first time being in a foreign country together and a way to kick off the their professional futures. Teach for America assigned Kat to a team in Los Angeles and Mason took a job with a video game company in Santa Monica.

Mason placed a bud in Kat’s ear and said, “Listen to this one.”

Kat placed her book in the seat pocket in front of her and curled up in the crook of Mason’s arm as she closed her eyes. The electric guitars made her heart hurt and the drums pressed her into the future.

5. “The Only Moment We Were Alone” by Explosions in the Sky

The heat and humidity of the concert venue made Kat want to vomit. There were so many people with clammy skin brushing against her bare arms. The look of disgust was obvious enough to make Mason laugh and pull her close to him. He leaned against the wall and she against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. Kat was already feeling a little sick, wondering if she should take a pregnancy test when they got home. Mason was playing with the fingers of her left hand as the band plucked the first notes of their favorite song. They were silent in the car ride home, the music still resonating in their bones. Mason pulled into the driveway and got out first. When the light turned on in the car, Kat suddenly noticed a thin gold band holding a small emerald on her left ring finger. Mason opened the passenger side door and leaned in, smiling. Kat looked into his face and nodded, leaping from her seat and into his arms.

Photograph By: Emily Blincoe
Written By: Natasha Akery

In the Darkness

Posted on: July 15, 2013

Her mother named her Desire, then gave her up for adoption. Charlotte and Ben argued about the name as they signed the paperwork. Charlotte wanted to call her Evelyn after her sister, but Ben said they should respect the mother’s wishes.

“It’s the one thing she has from her mom,” Ben said.

“I’m her mom now,” Charlotte pleaded, but Desire stuck.

Desire grew up with no false assumptions about her birth. Her adoptive parents repeated the story constantly—how her real mother was struggling with the sin of addiction, and how Jesus brought Desire to their home to be a beacon of light in the darkness.

Desire, unaware of metaphor or of the silent darkness that is infertility, looked around for the dark wherever she went. She saw it down open manholes and on moonless nights. She saw it in her adoptive grandmother’s basement as it appeared in her nightmares. And then, in fourth grade, her Sunday school teacher Mr. George said it was time to address the darkness head on. It was time for street evangelism.

After church, the fourth graders climbed into the fifteen-passenger van with Eagle Vista Fellowship painted on the side, armed with paper tracts.

“Does everyone have their buddy?” Mr. George asked, twisting from behind the steering wheel.

Everyone did. Desire’s buddy was Brittany, who had won a medal last month for memorizing the most Bible verses. Brittany, whose blonde hair was so long she could sit on it. Brittany, whom Charlotte said had been blessed with a generous spirit, since her little brother had Down’s and was God’s special gift in difficult packaging.

93.8 THE FISH was playing a jangling praise song, and Brittany lifted her tinny voice to sing along with Mr. George. They were headed towards the part of town where Ben and Charlotte delivered meals on wheels to the needy. The front porches were crowded with junk. Some houses had broken windows or dangling shutters.

“This is it!” called Mr. George. “Stay with your buddy, and remember to pray over each house, even if the people don’t want to talk.”

Brittany ran ahead, calling for Desire to catch up. She had already scampered onto the first porch and pressed her pinky into the doorbell by the time Desire made it into the yard. Brittany rang the bell three times, but no one came. At the end of the driveway, the girls held hands as Brittany prayed over the house. Desire always kept her eyes open during prayers to see who else was peeking. Brittany wasn’t peeking. Desire looked at the sky, where she imagined God was glaring down at her for not speaking to him more sincerely with her heart. She saw a giant bird lope through the air and land on a telephone pole.

“Amen,” Brittany said.

“Look at that bird,” Desire said. “I think it’s a buzzard.”

“It’s not!” Brittany said, still speaking in her praying voice. “It’s an Eagle! For Eagle Vista! It’s a sign Jesus is blessing our work here today. We have a lot of people to reach. Why don’t you go down this side of the street, and I’ll take that side? Then we can bless twice as many houses!”

Desire, more from watching Scooby Doo cartoons than from listening to Mr. George, knew they shouldn’t split up, but she also wasn’t sure how much more of Brittany’s praying she could take in one afternoon.

“Okay, but don’t go to the next street until I catch up,” she said.

Desire shuffled her tracts as she waited on the next porch. An old lady peeked through the curtains and glared. At another house, a man thought she was selling Girl Scout cookies, but didn’t want to talk about God. Finally, at 665 Winthrop Street, someone took a tract.

The woman at the door was pale, and so skinny you could pour water into her collarbones and it would stay there. Her greasy, red hair was slicked back, and her eyes were glassy. Desire didn’t want to look at her face, so she looked at her feet.

“I like your anklet,” Desire said.

The woman laughed. “I blinged it out the best I could! Still keeps me on the porch.”

On the black plastic, a little green light blinked among stick-on rhinestones.

“What’s this paper all about?” the woman asked.

“Jesus wants to love you,” Desire said.

“About time somebody did,” the woman said. “What’s your name, church girl?”


“That’s some name.”

“I’m adopted.”

“For real? Your parents told you that already? Damn.”

“Yeah. You shouldn’t say that word.”

The woman laughed again. “You come up on my porch and tell me what I can’t say?”

Desire backed down the steps into the yard.

“Do you want me to pray with you?” Desire asked, following the script she’d practiced with Brittany.

“Why not.”

Desire looked over her shoulder for Brittany, but didn’t see her anywhere. The bird flapped its wings on the pole, its feathers like long black fingers.

“Well, you gonna pray?” the lady asked.

“Um, dear Jesus, please bless—sorry, I don’t know your name.”

“Charlotte,” the woman said.

Desire stared at her, straight in the eyes this time. At that moment, Desire felt Jesus was trying to tell her something: this was her real mom.

“Don’t you remember me?” Desire asked.

“No. Should I? Your church group come here before?” the woman said.

“Did you have a baby nine years ago?”

“Hey crazy, I don’t have kids!” the woman laughed.

From behind her, Desire heard a sound like the screeching of a screen door. She whipped around expecting to see Brittany leaving a house, but the noise was coming from the buzzard, swooping down into the yard.

Where was Brittany? And why didn’t her mom remember? Was Jesus not speaking to her after all?

“Can you help me find my friend?” Desire asked. “And scare off that bird? He’s freaky.”

“They’ll be after me if I leave the house.”

Desire suddenly felt sweaty. Her mother, or Jesus, one, was abandoning her again, and there were people in this neighborhood who would get you if you went outdoors. And she had abandoned blonde-haired, generous-spirited Brittany alone in this land of darkness.

“Please help me?”

“Sorry,” Charlotte said, retreating back into her house. “You’re on your own.”

Photograph By: Emily Blincoe
Written By: Dot Dannenberg

Rosamund Parker

Posted on: July 11, 2013

“I heard there are alligators in these swamps.”

“Bullshit,” I reply. “Maybe further east but not here. Someone would know if they were here.”

Like royalty, Big Jonny and I sit surveying our kingdom, drinking beer we are too young to buy. This is Texas and we are celebrating our country’s independence. There are parties scattered around the lake, pods of the American semi-nude, and as the sun goes down the water acts like a mirror reflecting the sky. The image is of twin suns stacked like bunk beds, one on top of the other. In this twilight, I am dreaming of Rosamund Parker.

“Fuck alligators,” I mutter. “I’ve got more important shit to deal with. She doesn’t even know my name.”

She doesn’t even know my name, Jonny sings. He sounds like a fine country singer. I love her, and she doesn’t even know my name.

“I’m serious,” I say, “It’s pathetic.”

Big Jonny nods and chugs his beer. He finishes and leans back in his orange lawn chair that’s worn out like blue jeans, and casually crushes the empty can between his big sausage fingers. Jesus, I think, those fucking hands could crush a skull.

As for Rosamund Parker, her beauty is refreshing like an oasis in the desert. She wears big, rangy glasses, and has brown eyes, and looks very serious until she smiles. She seems to have this Miles Davis cool about her, though to be honest I don’t know anything you can’t observe from a distance. I study Rosamund Parker like one would study a Great White shark. She is mildly popular at school and moves graciously among the groups that bunch the hallways. She smokes with the freaks, lunches with the nerds, and parties with the jocks. She’s the consummate lead in school plays and in third grade she punched Sally Jenkins in Social Studies, letting everyone know, even then, she was not to be trifled with. For whatever reason, she does this all with siren-like blue hair. Troll Doll hair. She has freckles that go great with anything and if I were a different person leading a different life she would be my girlfriend.

Big Jonny smashes another beer can, this time with his cowboy boot. The cicadas soundtrack the night and there are teenage shouts from the party nearby.

“Best get on with it,” Big Jonny drawls. “I suppose she will be here, big party and all.” And here he begins to sing again, passionately and embarrassingly.

I can feel it cu-ming in the air tonight…hold on!

“Nice, Phil Collins,” I mumble.

I’m nervous at the party, drinking too much and stealing glances at Rosamund Parker. I know this is my last chance as she’s soon leaving for college. The stage is set and now the requisite fright is setting in. To soothe the nerves, Big Jonny suggests a keg stand, and it’s fresh off this keg stand that I find myself surrounded like a press conference, offering explanations.

“I just kept drinking,” I say. “Nothing else to it.”

“That was the longest I’ve seen,” says a cute blonde girl, and then from the back of the crowd a muffled, “That’s what she said.”

And finally, between the laughs, “Your name is Stan, right?”

I turn to find Rosamund Parker. She’s grasped my arm. I panic.


Slowly, she replies, “Stan. Right?”

“Right,” I say. “Stan.”

She doesn’t smile at me, but she doesn’t take her eyes from mine either. Instead, she squints at me as if I’m far away. I think she is the most beautiful, most drunk creature I’ve ever seen.

“Rosamund,” she says. “Rosamund Parker.”

That night we slept together. It was my first time, and as it turned out, her last.

As time has taken an eraser to my memories, I’ve lost many of the details. Perhaps the incredible nature of the morning that followed somehow dulled the preceding night – like trying to see in the dark after turning off the light. As it is, I remember snapshots of the nocturnal tryst that even when pieced together reveal only the corners of a puzzle.

I remember her pink bra crumpled on the ground, the feel of her hipbones to my fingers, and how she attacked my ear with her teeth. I remember the sound of sticks breaking as we rolled in the dirt, and her sweaty palms as she led me through the darkness of the woods to seclusion. Most of all, I remember her blue hair.

In the morning I’m awakened by screams. The sound leaves no time for a fuzzy adjustment period but even standing and awake I can’t believe my eyes.

Rosamund Parker is being dragged. Only her torso is visible. She is wearing my pearl snap shirt and the look on her face, years later, will keep me staring at ceilings for nights on end. There is a grating sound, like something being crunched and torn at the same time, and the sound sparks one excruciatingly obvious thought.

This is Rosamund Parker being eaten by an alligator.

Before I’ve taken a step, the gator has her in the water. There is thrashing, screaming, choking, crying, and ripping. The last I see of her is the hair, but really it’s over before it even began.

In the moments following, there is an eerie calm as I take in my surroundings. I am on the shore of a swamp and the water is low and muddy. Surprisingly there is no blood, as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. In the coming days I know there will be questions and newspaper stories, national interviews, and a Jaws-like hunt for the killer beast. They’ll eventually find bits of her in the animal’s stomach, and remnants of a toenail will acquit me of murder.

It was my sixteenth summer. A summer of firsts. The shade fought the heat, the bugs stretched their wings, and nature laid Rosamund Parker to rest.

Photograph by: Jaemin Riley
Written by: Logan Theissen

After the Storm

Posted on: July 8, 2013

The first frost came early that year, hardening the alluvial mountain earth – with it, soon after, the first winter storm. That meant the main road that cut through the mountains and out of the town was closed early, though it was at some point every winter. So Arata waited.

Time’s forward progression no longer felt like a certainty as the harsh frost froze everything it touched. Arata waited without any assurance that waiting would bring her any closer to realizing her plans. She sat patiently in the quiet of her living room watching the smoke snake out of her neighbor’s detached kitchen. Now and again, a huddled mass could be seen rushing from the kitchen to its attendant house with an armful of steaming food. She thought how curious it was that a detached kitchen, an antiquated and inconvenient architectural design, should still exist. The days and weeks and months passed and Arata continued to sit and wait. There was nothing else left for her to do.

Then spring came.

The winter weather had finally broken and the heavy curtain of cold lifted. The transformation was sudden. In a matter of days, the accumulated snow gave way to a dramatic explosion of green.

Arata gathered her worn suitcase, one her father had given to her before she went off to university, which she had prepared months before that first winter storm. Bits of dried faux leather flaked at its corners, revealing a layer of thin foam intended to mimic the suppleness of real animal hide. Memories of her father soon occupied her mind and she thought of how she had always despised her name. She was older now, but still carried a harmless resentment towards her parents for having given her a boy’s name.

At her doorway, decrepit suitcase in hand, she turned to look at the house where she had raised her family. She had always been, first and foremost, a mother and the house was her domain. From where she stood, the living room to her right and the hallway leading to the two bedrooms to her left, she could see the small kitchen, gently illuminated by the early dawn sunlight, just beyond the foyer where she had spent so many hours of her life. The pots and pans were suspended over the narrow gas range from a rack now caked in hardened grease. The pantry adjacent to the range was stocked with a healthy quantity of dried and canned staples. Arata wondered if she had left any milk in her refrigerator and contemplated checking, but then decided that it didn’t matter.

Arata pictured her children’s bedroom and the bedroom she had shared with her husband, the closets storing decades’ worth of clothing. In the foyer itself, a family portrait sat atop a candlestand table, welcoming visitors as they entered the home. Arata checked her watch and closed the door behind her, leaving it unlocked as she left.

The virgin spring air was cool, a remnant of the long winter. Arata made her way slowly to the bus station on the other side of town, both to enjoy the fresh air and because the slight hitch in her gait forced her. It was early yet, so the shops were still shuttered. She smiled politely at the handful of proprietors getting ready for the day’s business.

“Good morning Mrs. Sato. Going on a trip?” Mr. Yoshida asked.

What was this?

Arata shared the bus into the city with just one other passenger, a young woman dressed in traditional Japanese garb. She regarded the young woman’s beauty and wondered why she was dressed so formally before turning to her own translucent reflection in the clouded glass. Vanity had once been her greatest weakness. Even now, having been humbled by the passage of time, she took quiet pride in her girlish appearance which so often fooled those who attempted to guess her age. Only her hands, with its deep folds and dark blemishes, gave any indication of a life long-lived.

Arata took the sleeve of her thin cotton sweater into her fist and wiped away the condensation on the bus window, leaving a trail of water droplets in her wake. For a brief moment, she could see the world outside with a level of clarity possible only in contrast, but the early morning air quickly shrouded the glass pane with a new layer of fog.

Her right arm was propped against her seat, her left rested atop her suitcase just lightly enough to ensure it was there. The bus was at an incline as it climbed the unpaved mountain roads, still soft and moist from newly melted snow, the trees a continuous blur of green. She wasn’t running away. No, that would imply a shirking of authority or obligation – but there was none of that left, her children and her husband having passed. Doubt was all that was left. This was something different. She wondered if her motivation was even relevant anymore.

There was a past and a future, maybe. But there was no present.

As the bus entered the city proper, the mountain clouds that had clung stubbornly to the bus and the dreamlike miasma that had encapsulated the vehicle, dissipated. The unruly ride of the rural roads gave way to a dull hum of paved highways. Arata wasn’t sure if she had fallen asleep during the bus ride, but when she opened her eyes the world had changed. She turned her body towards the bus’s panoramic windows with a childlike enthusiasm as she saw the urban landscape come into view. Her heart beat headily.

As Arata stepped off the bus, the urban din immediately flooded her head, but the discordance played like a wonderful orchestra to her. The grey of the city was a curious novelty – even the green of the trees were darkened by the shadow of the imposing skyscrapers. Perhaps here she could disappear. Perhaps here, her solitude would be a blessing. This was the present now.

Written By: James Mo
Photo By: Becky Lee

The Creative Process

Posted on: July 1, 2013

Five. Four. Three. Two. One. And GO.

Wait, goggles don’t feel right.

And GO.

Wait, wait, wait. Didn’t set my stopwatch.


Alright, just like Youtube taught me. Legs stiff, arms extended and forehead barely cresting the water.


Cresting. Gross. It sounds like I’m being birthed. I could go for a good cry right now. Or maybe a spanking.


What jaghole decided to make open swim from five to eight in the morning? I bet they’re old, like everyone else in here besides me.


Including this bag of wrinkles in my lane. How are there THIS MANY PEOPLE here right now?


Alright, chill out. Focus on your breathing. Close your eyes. You’re the only one in the pool. You’re the only one in the pool.


Fuck! Ouch. Goddamn rope! Am I bleeding? I’m probably bleeding. I should probably stop and make sure I’m not bleeding.


NO! You will stay in this pool and continue racing this ancient merman! Even if he has no idea he’s in a race.


Son of a Speedo! This guy is like the lovechild of Flipper the dolphin and one of the California Raisins! Is he propelling himself with farts or what!?


I quit. Racing. Not swimming. Must keep swimming. Must stay fit. Must look good naked.


According to Men’s Health, a summer of lap swimming leads to a six-pack. Men’s Health wouldn’t lie. Men’s Health is infallible.


Speaking of bibles, I wonder if Jesus was a swimmer? He had GREAT abs.


Maybe he wasn’t walking on water at all?


Maybe his leg kicks were so fierce, he just appeared to be walking on water?


I wonder if Jesus would’ve been so influential without those abs?


Would people be so willing to wear him around their neck if he looked more like St. Nick?


Who has the money for that much precious metal? Rappers. And Baptists.


What if Jesus wasn’t Jesus at all? What if the Jesus we all know and mostly pretend to love is really just the FACE of Christianity?


And the real Jesus was like Beyonce’s song writers.


They create inspiring lyrics about inner-beauty and self-respect, while she performs them in designer outfits and gallons of makeup.


Real Jesus was probably a hefty gent who ate one-too-many pieces of unleavened bread while rolling through his scrolls.


No matter how compelling his philosophies were, no one could look past the crumbs in his beard.


Then one day, while passing a construction site, he spotted a svelte young man telling a joke to a larger audience than Real Jesus could ever even pray for.


That’s when he decided to let this sexy carpenter do his preaching for him.


Real Jesus started by feeding him a few simple parables, but the underlying messages went right over the crowd’s heads.


So they started performing “miracles,” like the time Hot Christ distracted a wedding party with his abs while Real Jesus filled the water pitchers with wine.


Or that time when Hot Christ stood on a makeshift surfboard while Real Jesus discretely pushed it across a lake.


Or the time when Hot Christ climbed to the top of a mountain and started glowing because Real Jesus reflected the sun on his face with a shiny rock.


That one probably wasn’t even intended to be a miracle. That was just Real Jesus playing a practical joke on his buddy while he was trying to take a leak.


But then things turned sour once Hot Christ let all the hero worship get to his head.


He started believing he truly was the son of God and started writing checks his abs couldn’t cash.


Hot Christ’s preachings went from Real Jesus’ parables to promising everyone eternal life and a blank slate if they committed their lives to him.


Real Jesus tried to warn him the authorities were getting a little weary of these radical thoughts, but Hot Christ was already gone.


Next thing you know, Hot Christ is getting nailed to a cross and Real Jesus is back to being ignored by everyone in Jerusalem. Especially the ladies.


Even Hot Christ’s most avid listeners started forgetting all of Real Jesus’ philosophies.


Real Jesus knew his life’s work was decaying like Hot Christ’s body in the cave, so he came up with one final miracle.


One morning while no one was watching, which didn’t take long because everyone was kind of over the whole crucifiction thing,


real Jesus removed Hot Christ from the cave and carried his corpse around town, Weekend At Bernie’s style.


The disciples bought it and quickly wrote down everything they could remember from their time with Hot Christ. And so began the New Testament.


Did I just come up with the plot for my first Dan Brown novel, or did I just guarantee myself a warm seat in hell right next to Satan?


BOTH! Wait, did I just lose count? Wasn’t I just in the thirties?


Son of a BITCH! There’s no way that’s right. I have to go back. Let’s say...


Forty-five sounds about right, right? Is this Karma?


No, Karma is an Indian thing. What’s the Indian religion again?


I want to say it starts with an “H...”


HINDUISM! Oh man, talk about a religion you can have some fun with. They do it like gymnasts and all their gods look like Goro from Mortal Kombat.


But, that will have to wait till next time. One more big stroke and...


Jesus, that sucked.

There I go taking the Lord’s name in vain again. Granny always told me I shouldn’t do that. You know who else’s name you shouldn’t say? LORD VOLDEMORT.

Jesus is Voldemort! Do I smell a sequel?

No, that’s just chlorine.

I’ve gotta stop thinking and swimming.

Written By: Mark Killian
Photo By: Christian Goy

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